What is Edge Computing?
We demystify the concept and explain how it can help.
Smart devices across the globe today can communicate and access an array of different media and platforms to enhance the computing experience. But with the ever-growing data needs and the increased processing requirement of each application, there is an increasing requirement for real-time storage and processing of data, to improve security and decrease latency and processing time.
What is The Edge?
But what exactly is the edge? Or Edge Computing. To understand, let’s quickly recap the internet and the cloud. An analogy for the internet today could be - A number of smart devices connected together, exchanging data and communicating with each other. The data and apps which are being transferred or processed are not usually stored on the smart devices, like your phone or your tablet, but on remote servers which are really just powerful computers with huge storage capacities – The Cloud.
The concept of cloud-based data sharing and processing is now well embedded - even in our daily lives. Like DropBox or Google Drive, the data can be stored on these servers which can be physically thousands of miles away. Accessing these applications or sending data processing requests is usually done without a noticeable delay, but as you increase the size of the data or the processing required you get delayed processing, slow data exchange and increased latency. Add to it the inherent risk of data leak through cloud-based computing and you might consider a server which is a little more closed and secure than a globally accessible cloud server.
With the ever-growing needs of data processing, there is a need to reduce latency, decrease processing time and of course cost.
An edge device allows all or a part of the data to be offloaded from the cloud and be processed separately in a semi-dedicated system allowing latency and processing cost to be reduced -resulting in a better user experience.
The edge computing concept also allows for selective data processing. A large enterprise business, for example, produces a huge amount of data from numerous sensors within its network, but the terabytes of data don’t all need to be uploaded for processing on the cloud. The edge network can store this data piecemeal, process what is critical at that moment, and the finished product can be uploaded to the cloud for faster and more efficient exchange.
Like thin clients on a Cloud-based system, the edge computing system has Fat Clients which are capable of some data processing. These Fat Clients add to the "in vicinity" processing capability of an edge network.
Use of the cloud moved processing away from the device or sensor at the source of data collection. Edge computing slightly reverses this trend and brings some of the processing back to source.
Moving towards The Edge
The Edge Computing Concept is a derivative of the cloud but is more efficient as decentralized data storage and processing in a physically close vicinity allows for reduced latency, but it also increases security, reduces processing time and increases redundancy of the system.
Much of the Edge network is often on the edge of mobile network reach. So being able to process critical sensor data on a mobile device without Cloud access means users take action in the moment. So, they do not have to wait until they pick up a network signal or fully upload data to the Cloud for processing.
Header image from: Werayuth Tes/shutterstock.com
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